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Rod, Gun & Game: Western New York science classrooms raise wild trout

SPRINGVILLE — Western New York’s kids are getting more and more involved in “green,” wildlife conservation projects. Among many organizations volunteering to help bolster this youth movement to the outdoors is WNY Trout Unlimited, a volunteer group responsible for much excitement in several, leading-edge science classrooms around Western New York, with its “Trout in the Classroom” program.

Caring for fish, from start to finish, plants the roots for a strong conservation ethic among young science students. The kids learn how to care for and nurture fish on their way to hatching and surviving. The students are able to see their project culminate in the release of raised fish into a WNY stream, as directed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Raising healthy fish and maintaining clean water creates a bond between students and their local ecology.

The program is now in full swing at multiple WNY schools that expressed the desire to learn more about raising trout. While many fishes in household aquariums are born live, many fish in the wild, such as salmonids, which include trout, are hatched from fertilized eggs.

On Oct. 10, brown trout eggs were delivered from the NYSDEC fish hatchery at Randolph to several local schools, including Springville-Griffith Institute in Springville, Frontier Middle School in Hamburg and Nichols Middle School. With Nichols, a math, science and technology-based preparatory school in Buffalo, this is the first partnership with a Buffalo public school for WNY-TU, which is hopeful that more Buffalo schools will request participation in the future.

Two days later, on Oct. 12, brown trout eggs were delivered from the DEC’s Bath Fish Hatchery to Brockport High School, Newfane High School and Gowanda High School. The Red House chapter of Trout Unlimited and WNY-Trout Unlimited share responsibilities for the program at Gowanda, located in a school district that straddles both Cattaraugus and Erie counties.

Chuck Godfrey, the WNY program moderator, is a retired math school teacher and volunteer. Godfrey explained, “When I went to Brockport, the eggs had eyed up, a progressive stage of healthy egg growth.”

Cooperating teacher Rosemary Catlin placed one of the eggs under a microscope, in a drop of water. Godfrey said, “Students could clearly see both eyes of the fish and the fish’s body, as it moved within the egg. We were able to get a great picture of the egg, through the microscope, and recorded a video of the moving fish. Quite an learning moment and a great experience!”

Godfrey asked that any school wishing to participate in this program call WNY-TU at 440-6995 or email steelheader@roadrunner.com.

About half of the cost of the $1,200 project goes toward the water chiller, which is necessary to keep the water cold enough for the trout. Science classrooms should ask for assistance if the fee is too steep for local science room budgets. The WNY-TU chapter is willing to help with the expenses.

If a school was to begin working with WNY-TU early enough, it may be able to obtain a funding grant from the New York State Council. According to Godfrey, “There definitely is help available, to any school that would like to participate in the program.”

The program deserves recognition for initiating student activities and providing an improved understanding of conservation and the ecosystems.

The end result of the program is an exciting curriculum for students, who will learn about understanding fish and their relatively fragile life cycles; understand that fishes like trout are considered an “indicator species” used to monitor healthy habitats and water quality of freshwater streams and lakes, stream biology, invasive species and their effects on the balanced web of stream life. Perhaps of increased importance, many students will connect their efforts with the experience of environmental stewardship and a sense of cooperative ecocommunity efforts.

The WNY Trout Unlimited organization holds its monthly meetings on the last Tuesday of the month, except for July, August and December, at 7:30 p.m. at the Donovan American Legion Post, located at 3210 Genesee St. in Cheektowaga. For fly-tyers, a pre-meeting fly-tying session begins at 6 p.m.

Body armor for Outdoor gear
The Sentry Solutions Company has established a green, oil-free, equipment maintenance revolution that is catching on, across the country and world. The effort was initiated because of equipment malfunctions caused by the use of dirt-attracting oil and traditional lubricants that many of us have used for decades. The second item for improvement, according to Sentry, was the reduced performance of firearms and gear, when exposed to freezing temperatures where oil-based products thicken.

Proven during combat situations on the battlefield, through the wide range of hot-to-cold climates and desert-to-mountain exposures, the new oil-free technology products from Sentry include firearms lubrication, bore treatment and oil-free grease. For internal moving parts, the lubrication is achieved with a product called “Tuf-Glide,” which provides smooth running performance and displaces water, grit and dirt.

Externally, a product called “Tuf-Cloth” provides the upgrade from oil and traditional silicone rags to protect gear and guns in extreme conditions, marine use and long-term storage. These gear care rags are available in two sizes and can be used to wipe down gear.

I am amazed by the effectiveness of this new dry, lubrication-based product. The improved performance of my firearms and fishing reels is quite surprising. After hearing more about this new product, I learned that our war heroes, first responders and Olympic stars are all using these products to achieve peak performance.

Without oil, solvent-based cleaning products are no longer necessary. Visit www.sentrysolutions.com, for more information.

Otis goes green
Firearm cleaning kits from Otis Technology are popular with firearm enthusiasts and hunters. This year, Otis launched a new line of environmentally-friendly cleaners, called the “O12 line.” With four unique formulations, Otis now offers a safe, highly-effective line of products to clean carbon, copper, lead, plastic residue and other fouling.

These products are on sale at local outlets in WNY. I have tried the O12 general purpose cleaner and found it to be effective.

Drinking water in the wild

As we move into the biggest part of the hunting season and, as hundreds of thousands of hunters head into the woods, hiking up hills with full gear loads and securing big game harvests in remotes areas, we find ourselves with a need for fresh, clean water.

A new product called “LifeStraw” provides a tool for point-of-use water filtration. This device is a plastic tube, about 10 inches long and about 1 inch in diameter, that easily fits into an inside pocket on your hunting vest and will provide 1,000 liters of clean drinking water.

Many individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy could have used this filtration device that works by simply taking a bucket full of rain or creek water and processing it by gravity, to provide safe drinking water. The product is inexpensive and can be reviewed at www.lifestraw.com.

Leftover DMPs on sale
The extended application period for leftover deer management permits went on sale Nov. 1 at license issuing outlets for the following wildlife management units: 1C, 3M, 3R, 3S, 7F, 7H, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8H, 8J, 8N, 9A, 9F.

Hunters may apply for and receive up to two additional DMPs in these WMUs. Applicants with licenses that are exempt from paying a DMP application fee or hunters who have previously applied for DMPs this license year will not be charged any additional fees, during the extended application period.Otherwise, there is a non-refundable $10 application fee for leftover DMPs.

The leftover DMPs are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications for leftover DMPs will not affect any preference points held by the applicant.

Outdoor calendar
Nov. 3 and 4: Sportsmen’s outdoor show, Little Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Route 353, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information, call 938-6928.

Nov. 6: Last NYS firearms certification class, Olean Rod & Gun Club. Call 585-268-7322 for more information.

Nov. 17: NYS Southern Zone big game firearms season opening day, sunrise – sunset. Ends Dec. 9.

Send information to nugdor@yahoo.com 10 days in advance.

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